Metal dust explosions have unique deflagration characteristics in comparison to organic fuels, and that can make them more difficult to control. The flame temperature of some metals dusts can exceed 3,500° K, more than 1,000° K higher than an organic flame. This can result in high explosion pressures, Pmax. Also, the pressure rate of rise, Kmax, as well as the flame speed, can greatly exceed that found with organic fuels. All of these contribute to making explosion protection more difficult.
Successful explosion protection lies in the speed of the system as well as its effectiveness. Detection and activation processes, as well as the mechanical response of the components, determine the overall speed. The effectiveness, for example, of suppression lies in the ability of the agent to stop the flame from propagating.
This paper reviews the potential effectiveness of explosion protection techniques (containment, suppression, venting and isolation) in metal dust explosions, and the limits associated with each technique. Experimental results will show that metal dust explosions can be controlled when the explosion protection techniques are properly applied.